I have a lot to say about karaoke (THE SONGS I SANG AT KARAOKE LAST NIGHT AND SOME INTERESTING CHOICES I MADE IN-BETWEEN, I DID IN FACT RETURN TO THE KARAOKE VENUE FROM LAST WEEK'S LIST ABOUT MY EXPERIENCE AT KARAOKE, THE KARAOKE PROCTOR IS MAD AT ME) and I really want to see everyone succeed. If you have any questions, I'm happy to answer them! Thanks to @originalamericantrt and @teo for the nudge.
- •It's about you, not your voiceThis is where I begin, because I want everyone to know: KARAOKE IS A PEDESTRIAN SPORT. In fact, I find it almost rude when trained/professional singers take the microphone. Karaoke is for everyone. I'll say it again: Karaoke. Is. For. Everyone. Like ListApp, your karaoke venue should be one that feels safe, that allows for great risks, that is supportive, kind, flirtatious and free. You should look forward to going, regardless of your skill level. So let's get you going.
- •Finding your styleThere is no one correct way to karaoke. The way I see it, this is your moment to fill the stage with the very essence of YOU. To be seen, and to be witnessed - just as you are. The song should be serving you, working through you to reveal something about you at your very core. Do you want to celebrate? Do you want to grieve? Are you horny? Are you feeling coy? LET THAT FEELING COURSE THROUGH YOU. Grab the mic, close your eyes, and surrender to it. I know it may seem like I'm kidding. I'm not.
- •Selecting your songThe one thing I can say about song selection is that it MUST be personal. Karaoke and nostalgia go so beautifully hand in hand because music and memory are so inextricably linked. You'll get nowhere choosing a song you think the crowd wants to hear (more on crowd pleasers later) ESPECIALLY your first song up. Remember the song is just the vehicle, the song is there to service you. If you're feeling shy, start with a song that feels like a secret. Trust yourself.
- •Keep a list.Preparation frees creativity. Keep a song list in the notes section of ur phone. There is nothing that will take you out of the spirit more than indecision over what to sing, pouring through the book for too long, or, heaven forbid, having to choose w/o a book. When you are singing along in your car to the radio and you're like "yo I sound super cute" put it on the list. When you are at karaoke in another town and you're like "yo I'm so jealous and I would sing that better" put it on the list.
- •Literally rehearse.Ok so like of course don't rent a rehearsal hall or hire a vocal coach unless you are v rich and bored/psychotic, but sing the song in the shower that morning or as you're getting dressed to go. AT THE BARE MINIMUM -- AND TRUST ME ON THIS -- JUST GOOGLE THE LYRICS BEFORE YOU GO ON STAGE!! Remember how the bridge to Paula Cole's "I Don't Wanna Wait" goes? Of course you don't. So pull up the lyrics and go listen on Spotify in bathroom if need be. The audience will thank you for it.
- •Crowd workFeel free to talk into the mic before/after your song!! Even during!! You know that big music break in the middle of the song!! Talk about your day!! Tell the crowd they look beautiful tonight!! Talk about your first kiss!! Also know that you can use the mic to get political. Examples of this include saying you stand win Planned Parenthood after you sing a song that is sex positive, or how whenever I sing FAST CAR, which is often, I urge the community to donate to their local shelter
- •In fact: Try a dedicationOne way to ensure you are connected to your material and are able to tap into its full, unapologetic expression is to make a dedication. You can choose to share this with the audience or not. From obscure dedications (I once dedicated a Destiny's Child song to Gaby Douglass) to the literal (the time I sang HOW TO SAVE A LIFE and dedicated it to anyone in the room who identified as an ex-boyfriend), these can help the audience join you in your catharsis and help to break the ice.
- •Please use your bodyYou are not on the radio. We can see you. I don't want to force you into movement you're not comfortable with or that isn't authentic, but I want to encourage you to physicalize what it is you are expressing. Maybe through dance. Are you exhausted? Lay down. Use the space. It's yours. The mic stand? Use it. Hold it. Dip it like an old lover. Feeling shy? Retreat to the back of the stage. Bold? Go right up to the lip. Free yourself.
- •Saving your crowd pleaserYes, I know, I told you not to choose songs based on what the crowd wants to hear - and you shouldn't. But in your song/soul search you'll absolutely come across one of those great anthems and you'll decide, tonight, it's yours. Don't sing that one first. You want build your audience, save your energy. If you start with your crowd pleaser, you'll have no where to go. Also, depending on your arrival time, you may find you sang your crowd pleaser before critical mass was reached. Save it.
- •Avoiding clichésIf you are going to sing Alannis or Bohemian Rhapsody, that's fine, but you're going to have to work harder to accomplish our most important goal: Making it personal. We've heard it to death. Why you? What's the connection to the material we haven't seen? How can you show us yourself in something we've seen so many others in? I can't answer that for you, but I encourage you to find your new take and take stage. If you succeed, it'll be with flying colors.
- •Befriend the proctor.Ok. This is a tough one. Proctors can be very tricky. But your relationship with the proctor can make or break your experience. Proctors dictate the order of the songs, they set and adjust the levels of the mic (!!) You want the proctor on your side. Start with a fat tip. Ask the proctor their name. Compliment their shirt. Thank them.
- •How do I deal with a tricky proctor?I have had some tough goes with proctors. Proctors who do not respect the order of songs, who choose favorites, who have turned my microphone level so low I could not be heard (!!!!) If you feel that it's taking too long for your song to be called, I would approach the proctor. I've often pretended I was going to step out for a cigarette (I don't even smoke) to gauge how long it'd be till I was up, serving as a gentle nudge. If your proctor is too evil, it may be time to find a new venue.
- •On duetsAs your karaoke coach, I REALLY don't want you to start with a duet, even if you're nervous. Your first song up is a very precious, irreversible moment in which you establish your style and presence. Duets should be saved for second or preferably third songs up. When you do a duet, always fun to try something new. Examples from my own practice include a gender swap version of BABY ITS COLD OUTSIDE or when I invited a waitress onstage to sing the hook of SUPERBASS which I rapped.
- •On rapsYou absolutely need to know, at minimum, 80% of the rap. No exceptions.
- •On group songsAfter four people it's just too much
- •On alcoholDo what you've gotta do